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Facing the Dark Goddess

I was lucky enough to spend last weekend at Niagara Falls. If you've ever been to the Falls, you already know how energetically powerful a place it is. The rushing water and swirling mists are breathtaking. I've always thought the Falls were a perfect place to surrender, open to flow, and expand. On this trip, however, I had a very different experience. As I stood at the top of the waterfall, watching the water cascading over the edge, I felt fear at the thought of being carried over. At the same time, I felt seductively drawn to the fear, as if some part of me wanted to be carried over and destroyed in the churning waters below. I've done enough shadow work to recognize the territory. My inner, dark goddess was calling to me like a siren from my deepest, darkest place...the place where my destructive power lives. Definitely scary stuff. As I sat with the experience, I realized that the bad dreams I'd recently had were coming from that same dark place, like insistent, little requests to be seen and acknowledged. Experience has shown me that shadow is extremely creative. When denied, it can create havoc with our lives. I knew if I didn't face whatever was trying to emerge from shadow, it would remain hidden and create challenging experiences that would force me to face it. The requests would become demands that couldn't be denied. And who knows how my life would be turned upside down in the process. I knew I had to face whatever my dark goddess was trying to show me, however scary it was. Screwing up my courage, I called upon my higher self and all my guides and guardians, created some sacred space in our hotel room, and went into meditation to meet my shadow. Almost immediately, I found my energy being drawn toward the solid rock formations of the horseshoe falls, as if the rocks were calling to me. My consciousness traveled behind and beneath the rushing water, where I could feel the smooth, sculpted rock. I traced along the solid horseshoe-shaped container, mesmerized by the steady energy of that container, as much as I've been mesmerized in the past by the water churning and billowing within it. I realized that the rock and the water were representative of my own masculine and feminine energies (or inner god and goddess). My masculine nature loves structure and stability. Like the rock, it's great at containing. It takes pleasure in separating wholes into distinct parts, ordering things, understanding things and drawing boundaries to delineate. In contrast, my feminine nature loves to flow, like the water and the mist. She wants to move spontaneously, building relationships between all the separate parts, as she spirals through. She's intuitive rather than practical. She's magical and ethereal, rather than solid, static or well-defined. Like the rushing water, my dark goddess can be wild and beautiful, but also dangerous. I understood these energies need each other. I knew that If I wanted to reclaim my dark goddess, I needed to strengthen and purify my masculine container, so she could come forward feeling supported rather than out of control. With a stable container, she could emerge from the shadows knowing her power would be respected but also properly held in check. Feminine waters need rocky structures to flow within. I wanted to share this, because I think the same principles are true on a larger scale. I've spoken for quite some time about the necessary rise of feminine energy as a balancing force. The war, environmental degradation, and division we see today is the result of each of us allowing our distorted masculine energy to operate in isolation. This isn't a problem with men. It's the result of the masculine principle within each of us operating unchecked. Without the tempering feminine forces of compassion, intuition and magic, the world has become ugly. Structure has grown unchecked and without concern for how it serves and relates to everything else. There's no doubt we need the Divine Goddess to show us how to be compassionate again, to find harmony and common ground and to interact in ways other than "us-versus-them." But because the Divine Goddess within each of us has been denied for so long, she's learned how to operate as the dark goddess. Denial is a breeding ground for anger and resentment, and this distorted feminine energy can be manipulative, controlling and destructive in the worst sense. Denied an opportunity to flow freely, it's been forced to turn in upon itself again and again. There's the danger now of it exploding, the way the water of the Falls would, if it were somehow stopped up for a thousand years. One way or another, feminine energy is rising. Without a solid container to hold all that bottled up magic, we risk experiencing the pendulum swing in the other direction...a world of chaos, where truth and facts no longer matter, and the destructive power of the dark goddess swells and churns unchecked. Undoubtedly, this would clear away what has become stagnant, but at a very high price. I believe it's possible for feminine energy to rise in a healthy, life-giving, restorative way. Responsibly reclaiming feminine energy requires committed shadow-work. That means looking your own darkness in the eye, refusing to deny it's existence any longer, and committing to transform it with love, acceptance and plain hard work. If you're having trouble claiming your feminine energy because of all the trauma and darkness intertwined with it, creating a sacred container can really help. The simplest way I've found to create a sacred container is to develop a committed spiritual practice, such as journaling, yoga, prayer and/or meditation. Commitment and structure are masculine principles. Masculine energy aligned with the highest intentions, is extremely protective and capable of providing shelter through the most difficult storms.

If you already have a committed practice, the next step is making space in real ways in your daily life to process and responsibly integrate all that wild feminine energy that's being set free. Although this work is challenging and requires a bigger time commitment, I think it's a far easier path to tread.

For more information and a journaling exercise on shadow work, see my blog post Facing Your Shadow. For personal support, please consider booking an integrative healing session.

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